If Gov. Neil Abercrombie wonders why his approval rating is so low, he might look at his administration’s response to a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
On the one hand, the governor has taken the position that the state’s ban is unconstitutional — hence, indefensible.
On the other hand, his health director, Loretta Fuddy, took the opposite position. It’s not only defensible, she’s going to do so “vigorously.”
If that isn’t confusing, I don’t know what is. It seems like the governor wants to have things both ways.
Here’s his position: “To the extent that state law allows opposite sex couples, but not same sex
couples, to get married, it violates the Due Process Clause and Equal
Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”
Here’s hers: “Because I am being sued for administering the law, I will
also defend it.”
Amid the battling opinions, where’s the attorney general? Isn’t the attorney general supposed to act as the state’s lawyer? Abercrombie and Fuddy weren’t sued as private citizens, after all. They were sued in their official capacity.
Shouldn’t the attorney general have advised Abercrombie to take one side or the other? I don’t say should have advised Fuddy, because Fuddy works for Abercrombie.
This is just one more example of a lack of clear leadership. We’ve already seen the governor waffle on the Pro Bowl. He asked for resignations of board members, and then told us he might reappoint them. He was for raising the GET. And then he was against it, confusing the Legislature in the process. He was open to gambling, but then when the session came around he was nowhere to be found.
That doesn’t mean the governor hasn’t taken decisive stands. Civil unions was one of the best examples. Mayor Wright Homes got its hot water because of his leadership. He came out with a bold decision on a ceded land settlement proposal in Kakaako, and described a vision for a third city.
But imagine trying to explain to a civics class how the state could hold two views on the same issue.
I could understand the Legislature holding a different view from the executive branch. After all, the ban was approved by the Legislature after the public in 1998 voted for a constitutional amendment giving it the authority to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
But the executive branch holding multiple views?
Maybe, in the end, all this proves is how powerful judges are. Clearly, politicians can’t make up their minds.
The attorney general in his news release makes a point of explaining how his department can represent two parties with differing points of view. That makes sense, given that it does appear to be a conflict of interest.
But he misses the bigger question.
And that leaves our governor looking like he wants to take both sides of an issue.
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